For Berger-Wild, the key benefit of this technology has been the opening up of an entire new market sector.
"We saw an excellent opportunity to diversify into the retail market but before the installation of the Ishida equipment, we simply did not have the ability to cope with the anticipated demand for these convenience packs," said Berger-Wild managing director Karl Berger.
"Now we are able to satisfy the demands of all our customers during the critical time period. We are delighted with the Ishida FFW, both in terms of its accuracy and its reliability, and we are confident it will prove a highly worthwhile investment."
The company has for many years been a major supplier of cubed deer to the foodservice market, packed into 2.5kg and 5kg bags. But more recently, the company identified an opportunity to pack meat in smaller sizes for supermarkets and other retailers in order to satisfy the growth in consumer demand in Germany and throughout Europe for pre-packed fresh meat products.
Ishida's newly launched CCW-NZ-106 Fresh Food Weigher (FFW) was chosen as it is specifically designed to handle sticky products such as meat and poultry. It features linear belt feeders that distribute the product evenly to the weighing units, where specially developed stainless steel or plastic hoppers with anti-stick scraper gates ensure a smooth, reliable and consistent product flow through the weigher.
"As the product is very sticky, traditional automatic weighing equipment is not suitable, so at first the only solution seemed to be to weigh and pack by hand," said Berger.
"However, the number of people we would need - plus the fact that the accuracy of the packs would be highly unreliable with the likelihood of excessive product giveaway - meant that this was simply not economically viable."
Berger Wild also needed machinery capable of weighing product into the packs accurately, consistently and at reasonably high speeds. "The game season is relatively short, so it is imperative that we maximise production during this period." said Berger.
Ishida's new FFW plant works by selecting the combination of hoppers that most closely matches the target weight. A set of booster hoppers under the weigh hoppers holds product not initially selected by the computer. This frees up the weigh hoppers to accept more meat and thus generate additional weight combinations, which further increases speed and accuracy.
At Berger-Wild the CCW-NZ-106 is operating in conjunction with a Multivac 570CD tray thermoformer. Trays are presented to the Ishida in a 2x4 format with filling speeds of around 18-20 packs per minute. Accuracy is to within 0.5g of the target weight.
Ishida says that in addition to its exceptional accuracy, the FFW offers benefits in terms of improved pack consistency and presentation thanks to its proven high weighing accuracy. Reduced product handling, with just one operator required for this particular application to deliver the meat to each linear belt feeder, not only saves labour costs but also creates a more hygienic packing operation.
Most European venison comes from New Zealand. The German market consumes 49 per cent of New Zealand's venison production, with the majority of the volume purchased by game traders as a commodity product.